Hearing loss is one of the most common and widespread issues we face as we get older. It is reported that roughly one third of people between the ages of 65 and 74 have some degree of hearing loss. That number shoots up to 50% for adults over the age of 75. With almost half of the senior population being affected be hearing loss, you would think there would be more awareness and established systems in place to address such a prevalent concern.
Procrastination is Common
Unfortunately, it seems that most older adults are reluctant to tackle the issue of hearing loss until it becomes a serious problem. I guess this is understandable considering the gradual nature of hearing impairment. It comes on slow and as extremely adaptable beings, we tend to just accept and cope with difficulties that don’t have a major impact on daily living. The problem with this approach is that by the time hearing impairment becomes an obvious problem, irreparable damage may have already been done.
Education is Key
Ensuring seniors are armed with all the relevant facts and information regarding hearing loss and its impacts is essential for maintaining a healthy and independent lifestyle. It is likely that people are so quick to ignore minor hearing issues because they feel the problem is insignificant. However, if everyone was aware of the benefits of treating hearing issues as early as possible it might be a different story.
Providing Support for Older Adults with Hearing Loss
If you have an aging loved one that is resistant to get help for hearing problems, there are some recommended approaches to be taken to prevent conflict and reduce stress.
Some suggested practices include:
- Exercise empathy
- Be compassionate
- Be client
- Try not to enable
- Seek support
Putting yourself in another person’s shoes is almost always a good first step in addressing any issue. Try to imagine how frustrating it would be to struggle to maintain conversations when your hearing is not as sharp as it once was. The stigma associated with hearing aids can also contribute to the reluctance for action.
The root of this issue comes in part from an ageist western society that for some reason condemns the aging process even though it is an inevitable fact of life. People don’t want to admit they are getting old, even though that is exactly what is happening. Aging should be embraced, not resisted if the goal is to remain healthy and independent.
Many seniors react to hearing loss with anger and frustration. The feeling of helplessness can lead to stress and anger and if the problem continues unheeded it can develop into social isolation and depression.
The knee-jerk response to someone lashing out in anger is to get defensive and respond in a similar fashion. However, this is not helpful, it does nothing but exacerbate the situation. Try to remain calm and client and attempt to approach the issue in a non-threatening way.
On average, people wait a lengthy period of 5 to 7 years before actually taking action to correct hearing loss. Obviously, patience is required here as no one wants to be pushed to do anything.
Gentle encouragement and education about the hazards of hearing loss and the incredible advancements in technology to treat hearing issues can be helpful.
Try Not to Enable
It can be very tempting to be the ears for your aging loved one with hearing loss. While you may think you are being helpful, speaking on behalf of a person with hearing problems is only making the problem worse.
For one, it creates a relationship of co-dependence that is beneficial for neither person. Also, it encourages the individual with hearing loss to continue to do nothing to resolve the problem.
Steady progress in hearing aid technology and home support result in a variety of viable options for people with hearing impairment.
In fact, seniors no longer even have to leave the house to get a comprehensive hearing assessment, tests, hearing aid fittings, recommendations, advice, and support. Hear at Home Mobile Hearing Services offering full Hearing Aid Clinic Services in the comfort of home.